With softball season done and football wrapping up, the focus now begins to turn toward basketball. The first game for the boys and girls both will take place on Nov. 20. No one is more excited about the upcoming season than brand new RHHS girls basketball coach Elizabeth Bennett – formerly Lyons as she married Savannah baseball coach Stacy Bennett last month.
"This is my favorite thing I’ve done in my life," Bennett said of her RHHS coaching experience thus far. "I always thought I wanted to be a college coach, but I can’t see ever not coaching the high school level now that I’ve gotten a taste of being a Wildcat."
Bennett was previously an assistant girls basketball coach at AASU. When asked if she feels pressure jumping into tough Region 3-AAA with a young team, Bennett said, "I think pressure is the wrong word to use. I think excitement is the right word to use. I feel the excitement because I get to put my theories into place and have been blessed with a great bunch of players and coaches that buy into it and share my vision and are on board. This is a golden opportunity to mold a great team."
She said she’d like to punctuate the team’s effort by having nice gear and equipment as they reach for their goal. This was evident Thursday night at Beef ‘O’ Brady’s during a fundraiser. The team handed out hundreds of flyers prior to and helped the wait staff during the event which resulted in the restaurant donating money to the team.
The Lady Wildcats are a young team this year, with only three seniors. The team captains are senior point guard Colleen Keller who Bennett said is only now playing her true position and doted on her ability to "direct traffic and get the ball up," senior post Jade Crosby and sophomore Tyler Carlson who is the lone returning starter and "one of the best young guards in the league."
Bennett also praised sophomore Shakeena Durham. "She played a little bit of varsity last year," Bennett said. "She’s a smooth player with a beautiful touch – we just need to get her a little more aggressive."
"We have a lot of good players who can fulfill roles," Bennett continued. "We have a couple players that can score, a couple of defensive special players. We have a couple girls that can really rebound it. As far as strategy, we’re going to run the ball. We’re going to push it. We are going to try to run and get into a continuity offense."
"I’ve got a player named Courtney Myers, a junior who played mostly JV last year," Bennett continued. "She is my best and strongest defensive player. She’s quick and she’s everywhere on that court. We’re going to build our defense around her."
Bennett said, since the team is so young, she is also looking to RHMS girls basketball coach Sean Strickland "to focus on the rest of our future players. Sean has been awesome in putting in the same offense in his program in order to help build a program at RHHS."
She spoke highly of her RHHS coaching staff. "I’m so lucky to step right into this program and have such a great group of fellow coaches around me such as JV coach Alex Gray and assistant coach Jodi Reagan. They are all so supportive and we’re all sharing a common goal here.
Bennett said assistant coach Jodi Reagan will serve as a catalyst in her adjustment to both this region and to high school athletics. "I thank God for her," she said.